Shipments of smart wearables are expected to grow from 9.7 million in 2013 to 135 million in 2018, according to new forecasts.
Analyst firm CCS Insight said that the growth – some 1,291 percent – would be led by wrist-worn devices, which will account for 87 percent of wearables to be shipped in 2018.
Such devices will comprise 68 million smartwatches and 50 million smart bands with no screen or with a minimal, one-line display.
Stand-alone cellular wearables are also a growing segment, with “a number of high-profile devices with their own SIM cards” expected to be announced in the coming months, CCS said.
Over five million wearables were sold in North America in 2013, and over 40 percent of all wearable devices currently in use are there.
Although North America currently leads the way in terms of adoption, Western Europe is expected to buy more wearables from 2016.
CCS Insight Director of Forecasting Marina Koytcheva commented: “The wearables market is in its Stone Age right now. There needs to be huge improvements to broaden their appeal.
“This is particularly acute when it comes to devices for women: wearables need to quickly move on from black, clunky devices; fortunately we’re starting to see the first steps in this direction.
“Every category faces different risks: the way people use wearables is still changing, one type of device could kill sales in another category, people are unsure whether some wearables are socially acceptable, and intellectual property rights are a minefield for the dozens of start-ups entering the wearables market.”
Koytcheva warned that the market could be changed “beyond recognition” if a major player like Apple decides to get into the game.